Deepak Singh blogs on business|bytes|genes|molecules and, as the cartoon below testifies, has built for himself quite a reputation as an authority on the questions of Open Access and the future of science communication on the Web. We first met at Scifoo last summer and it was great pleasure to host Deepak here on my home grounds at the Science Blogging Conference last week.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? What is your background? What is your Real Life job?
That’s a great question. I am a bit of a nomad having lived in three countries and eleven cities (currently living in the Seattle area). My scientific background is in quantum chemistry and molecular simulation, but I consider myself a bit of a hybrid between a structural biologist, computational chemist and bioinformatician. Over the past seven years, I’ve worked in the bioinformatics/scientific software industry as a developer, product manager and now as the strategic planning manager at Rosetta Biosoftware.
What do you want to do/be when you grow up?
I used to remember what the answer to that was, but now I am just trying to figure out when I’ll grow up.
When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
I’ve been a web junkie since 1994, so science blogs came along the way. Been reading some regularly for over three years. My favorites include Public Rambling (Pedro Beltrao), What You’re Doing is Rather Desperate (Neil Saunders), Discovering Biology in a Digital World (Sandra Porter), Freelancing Science (Pawel Szczesny), and In the Pipeline (Derek Lowe). But there are so many more. If you ask me tomorrow, you might get a different answer. I discovered Ryan Sasaki’s ACDlabs blog at the conference, which was really cool. It’s good to see a software company actively encourage blogging and Ryan has a fine blog.
How is scientific publishing going to look like in 20 years from now? How will this affect the way science is done in the first place? And, how do science blogs fit in that ecosystem?
Anyone who has read my blog can probably guess my answer to this one. I strongly believe that scientific communication in 20 years will look significantly different from what we see today. My hope is that we have multiple avenues for publishing scientific information, including peer-reviewed publications, blogs, wikis, etc and the media will vary as well. In some cases people will use more traditional forms, in others video may be used. I hope this means people do science for the sake of good science, and not to get a publication done, or in the hope of finishing a PhD fast, or getting tenure. I am also convinced that the vast majority of (if not all) scientific publishing will be open by that time.
Science blogs will be one part of a highly interlinked ecosystem. Actually, I’ve stopped thinking of blogs as an entity by themselves. They are just another avenue for writing and publishing, one particularly suited to individuals or small groups
You developed Bioscreencast – can you tell us more about it?
Well, it’s not quite correct to say that I developed it. That credit goes to my friend Suresh who has written most of the code. The idea of Bioscreencast happened when an old friend of mine Hari (harijay.wordpress.com) and I started talking about his new passion for screencasting and the traffic some of his screencasts had seen on YouTube. Bioscreencast was the result of those discussions. There are five of us involved, with backgrounds in structural biology, molecular biology and engineering, so it’s an interesting mix. In our minds, Bioscreencast is an avenue for informal scientific communication. Lets say you have your favorite application and want to share your workflow with the rest of the world. You can turn on your favorite screencasting tool and record your actions with a short narrative. It’s simple, yet very powerful. Our hope is that over time, young graduate students and even undergrads will use the service to learn workflows and share them with each other.
What are your plans for the future (at least what you are willing to disclose) in your life and work?
I am passionate about open science and the role of the internet and computing in the future of science and hope to be actively involved in those areas, both professionally and personally. One of my 2008 goals is to start programming again and doing some science as a hobby, but also to develop proofs of concept that highlight open science and the web as a platform for science. Of course, work and travel keep me busy, so hopefully there will be some opportunity to sleep along the way. We also have some big plans for Bioscreencast, which should come to fruition this year. And some day, I want to make a trip to Africa and spend time at Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. It’s a childhood dream.
Is there anything that happened at the Conference – a session, something someone said or did, a new friendship – that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your job, blog-reading and blog-writing?
Nothing specific comes to mind, but I’ve been thinking a lot about science communication in the days since the conference, especially how we, as scientists, can communicate with the non-scientific community, and how we can leverage different media forms, especially video.
It was so nice seeing you at the Conference and thank you for the interview.
Always good to see you and thanks for organizing the conference. I hope to be back next year.
Cartoon by Pierre Lindenbaum
Check out all the interviews in this series.